In this weeks show, we bring you interviews with four activists educators who are working within their communities and unions, local and national, to actively speak back to and resist the neoliberal structures and paradigms being imposed on us. Their stories remind us of the necessity and power of organizing and of finding courage in solidarity.
The assault on public education is multi-faceted and strategic. Here on Education Radio we have explored the ways that politicians, corporations and individual financiers manipulate the discourse, bully educators, intensify the disempowerment of low-income communities, and purchase access with the goals of privatizing education and feeding their profits from the public trough. The forces of neoliberalism, which aim to privatize and commodify every aspect of our lives, are powerful and organized. For those of us who see education as a place for the building of a democratic and just society, for transformation and human freedom, understanding the magnitude of the struggle can be overwhelming. But there are numerous spaces of resistance and groups coming together to speak back to the dominant discourse and claim a new way of knowing ourselves as teachers, educators, union members, students, parents and community members. We at Education Radio want to devote some time to exploring this resistance in the coming months.
We begin by speaking with Shaun Johnson, assistant professor of education at Towson University, blogger at The Chalk Face, and organizer of Opt Out of the State Test, a grassroots organization that encourages and supports parents and teachers to refuse to participate in standardized testing.
We then speak with Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union and former classroom teacher, about how she and other Chicago Public School teachers formed the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) to take over union leadership to ensure that the Chicago Teachers Union represented the best interest of teachers, students and low income communities in the fight against corporate education reform.
We also talk with Yvette Felarca, an English and history teacher at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkley, CA. She also a founding member and organizer with BAMN - Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary. We talk with Yvette about her activism within teaching as well as with BAMN.
We finish by going to Santa Rosa California to speak with Simone Harris, high school English teacher, union organizer and blogger at theedutalk.blogspot.com about her unionâs decision to not only endorse but to plan an action with Occupy Santa Rosa. Simoneâs activism reminds us that our struggles as educators are shared struggles, against the same forces and for the same hopes, as those of our students, the poor, working people, and the planet.